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Andrew Smith, Australian correspondent

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Pressure on euthanasia advocate Nitschke increases

Andrew Smith, Australian correspondent

Pro-euthanasia advocates have continued to distance themselves from the controversy surrounding Dr. Philip Nitschke and his connection to the suicide of West Australian man Nigel Brayley.

Australian Capital Territory pro-euthanasia MP Mary Porter has condemned Nitschke in a letter to the editor of the Canberra Times.  In it she revealed that she was often warned by others in the pro-euthanasia movement to maintain a distance to prevent being associated with Nitschke.

“I believe the role being played by him in promulgating his style of voluntary euthanasia is negative rather than positive, and has indeed set the cause back considerably, but hopefully not irrevocably,” she wrote. “By his actions, Dr Nitschke has demonstrated that he is far more interested in his own self aggrandisement than he is in promoting rational debate about this important subject.”

Porter used her study tour in 2013 to research the legislation, regulation, and administration of euthanasia in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

Australian doctors have continued to welcome and validate news of the suspension of Nitschke’s medical registration, rubbishing his claims of “rational suicide” for people like Nigel Brayley.  Commenting on the coverage in the Medical Observer, Dr. Michael Berger said his campaign for euthanasia has blinded him to “to the completely different issue of suicide in people with a mental illness or those under extreme stress as Mr Brayley appeared to be.”

Additionally, law enforcement officials’ responsiveness to suspected cases of euthanasia or assisted suicide has grown. 

In previous incidents euthanasia advocates have practically dared the police to investigate them.  In response to the latest ‘activist death’ of Voluntary Euthanasia Party candidate Max Bromson, South Australian police sent 17 detectives.  Exit International claims police confiscated all cell phones and computers from the family members who attended, and that an autopsy will be conducted in spite of the suicide note and video recording of his death.

Meanwhile, Australian anti-euthanasia group HOPE: No Euthanasia has sponsored a petition at CitizenGo calling for a “National Inquiry into the operations of Exit International and its director, Philip Nitschke.”

According to director Paul Russell, now is the time to strike in advance of the return of federal parliamentarians from their winter break.  “Right now the media has turned on Nitschke over the suicide deaths and all the other euthanasia activists are livid.  We need to demonstrate the demand for an inquiry in to Nitschke and the rest of the ‘death coaching’ suicide industry,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Because the activities of Exit International have a global reach, the petition is seeking support from all countries.

“The stories of grief and loss appearing in the Australian media are surely only the tip of a grotesque iceberg,” Russell said. “For each and every one of these, proceeding to a national inquiry is simply a matter of natural justice.”

The day after Nitschke’s medical suspension, national newspaper The Australian ran a front page story on the ‘death coaching’ happening inside the discussion forums of the Exit International website.  The paper reported on the April 2012 suicide death of 26-year-old Lucas Taylor, which was only discovered by his mother after a train station in Germany called regarding his abandoned belongings.

After gaining access to his computer, and subsequently the Exit forums, his mother found out about the secretive discussion area where Lucas received both explicit instruction and strong encouragement from other forum participants. 

Lucas learned on the forums how to obtain the drug and also how to disguise the scene of his death.  “The mother, who had spoken regularly to her son overseas via Skype — and had seen no outwards signs of depression — could barely believe what she was reading, for hours online, tracking his methodical ‘coaching’ descent towards suicide,” reports The Australian.

Stories from other families continue to surface through the Australian media.

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